Decorated footed basin

Ottoman, about AD 1545-50
From Iznik, modern Turkey

Washing the Sultan's feet

This large basin may have been used for washing the feet of Sultan Süleyman II Qanuni ('The Law Giver') (reigned AD 1520-66), also known as Suleyman 'the Magnificent'. An inventory of the Ottoman treasury in AD 1505 makes mention of 'foot basins': this may either mean that they were indeed used for washing feet, or that the basins were mounted upon a circular foot, as here.

The basin is an example of the 'Damascus' style of Iznik pottery; the range of colours extended from the simple cobalt blue and white to include turquoise, aubergine and pale green. The outside of the broad bowl is painted in a lively pattern of large cobalt blue and turquoise lotus flowers, enclosed by slender blue stems and long feathery green leaves. A smaller version of the same design appears around the foot, bordered by narrow bands of cable pattern. Inside the basin is a radial arrangement of medallions containing cloud scrolls, each medallion surrounded by tall stalks of bluebells. Distinctive elements of the decoration, such as the cloud scrolls, show stylistic links with an Iznik mosque lamp, also in the British Museum. This provides a useful basis for attributing a date and location of origin to the basin.

Find in the collection online

Decorated footed basin


  • Interior of basin

    Interior of basin


More information


N. Atasoy and J. Raby, Iznik: the pottery of Ottoman (London, Alexandria Press, 1989)

J.M. Rogers and R. Ward, Suleyman the Magnificent (London, The British Museum Press, 1988)

J. Carswell, Iznik pottery (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)


Height: 27.300 cm
Diameter: 44.100 cm (rim)
Diameter: 44.100 cm (rim)

Museum number

ME OA G 1983.67


Godman Bequest


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore